Archive for March, 2009

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Train stations, not just for trains anymore.

March 31, 2009

This may be the greatest thing I’ve seen in a week or so.  I don’t know the story, I don’t know the reasons, and I don’t care.  All I know is that it is absolutely awesome.  

Via: Althouse

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Stripping Hyperbole.

March 31, 2009

I’m addicted to adjectives.  It started when I was young.  I remember a friend saying to my siblings and I: “You guys use a lot of adjectives, do you really mean what you say.”  It stuck with me.  What I’ve discovered in my turn to twitter is that adjectives are the first things to go.  Twitter forces you to distill what you want to say to its fundamental meaning.  Hopefully it will help me in that regard.  

Speaking of Twitter, WordPress has just added a twitter widget which you will find to your right.  You can follow me at twitter.com/liamkinnon.

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Going to see U2!

March 30, 2009

I have waited for this opportunity since the time I was around ten and heard “Where the streets have no name.”   That song still makes me hide my face for a second or two.  It will be incredible to finally see The Edge in real life.  To be honest I had been hoping to get field seats at Skydome (now known as the Roger’s Center) which were a surprisingly reasonable price.  Alas it was not to be, and after reading that they sold out almost immediately I’m just grateful I’ll get to see them.  Although I’ll have to take my binoculars. 

List of Concerts I want to see before I die.
The Police
U2
Peter Gabriel

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Scienceless Science Minister?

March 29, 2009

I have been waiting a little while to weigh in on this one.  My good friend Matt, not to be confused with other Matts, who has become my most regular commenter here asked my thoughts on this.  For those who don’t know about it, Canada’s minister for Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear, refused to say he believed in evolution.  His response was that he didn’t feel the need to discuss his religious beliefs.  As someone who has spent 88% of his life in secular education I can understand playing your cards close to the chest when it comes to a question like this.  There are two fundamental issues with his answer though.  The first is that evolution is an undisputed fact of science.  The (legitimate) dispute is over degree.  This is where clarification over macro and micro evolution comes into play.    As someone who is not in science I can only say that I sit somewhere between the camp known as Intelligent Design* and a secular understanding of evolution.  The fact that Goodyear didn’t have an appropriate answer for this question means that he had not thought about the question except to decide against evolution.  

The second issue is that Goodyear has now given ammunition to those who think Christians are a bunch of idiots.  This is unfortunate on a large scale because there are theists, atheists, and many in between who are not happy with where evolutionary theory is being used.  Where Popper’s idea of the ideological revolution has replaced the scientific revolution it rightly was.  On a smaller scale this story is unfortunate because it ends up downplaying Goodyear’s credentials as a chiropractor (who go through the same anatomical training as doctors), and his studies in Biomechanics and Psychology at Waterloo.  By not thinking through his position he ended up allowing himself to be cast as antiscientific.  There is a lesson in this for all of us.

*Intelligent design is not the same as creationism.  If you haven’t bothered understanding the difference it breaks down quite simply.  Creationism sees the world as 6,000 years old, static, and divinely ordered on a literal biblical model.  Intelligent Design generally encompasses viewpoints from Macroevolution to Creationism, focusing only on the difficulties of accounting for the beginning of life, the cambrian explosion, and complexities of the cell as happy accidents and instead explaining them as the products of intelligence.

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An Atheist and a Christian walk into a bar.

March 29, 2009

This thought has reoccurred to me a number of times. It is kind of simple and definitely in need of refinement. It is essentially related to the problem of evil. When you ask nonbelievers why they don’t believe in God, especially those who once did, you frequently get an interesting response. “If there is a God look at all the pain he’s caused, all the evil he allows. How could anyone believe in him?” They blame the God who doesn’t exist for the problems in the world. But there is a disconnect. Without God being responsible for evil we are left with two possible conclusions as to evil’s existence. There is no evil, or evil is humanity’s fault.

In the first category you have Nietzsche and Richard Rorty. Evil is merely a definition that varies according to person or the powerful. This is, so far as I can tell, the most logical outcome of true atheistic ethics. However, if you don’t subscribe to that outcome of atheism you are left drawing the same conclusion as the Christian.  We’re responsible.

This is where exitential guilt comes in.  Every time I lie, every time I take an action that in some way injures someone else, it is my responsibility.  I can blame no one else.  This guilt seems to be little felt in the West, where the consequences for something as simple as buying a cup of coffee or pair of sneakers are so far removed from us we don’t see them.  But we’re contributing to the mess of the third world by our mere existence.  Forget pollution, try and imagine everyone on earth producing as much physical trash as we do, there isn’t the landfill space for it.

Christianity, and Judaism before it, had and has a word for this problem: sin.  We are responsible for the problems of the world, merely by existing.  The atheist doesn’t agree with us on the terminology.  But if they believe that evil exists in the world then we are on the same page.

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Canadian Banks, Something to be proud of.

March 22, 2009

I had been thinking about this a lot recently.  Some of the more right wing people I read from the States have been arguing that this crisis does not mean that the markets need to be regulated.  While I have tended to agree with this I’ve often wondered about what regulations mean.  Then I read this article from the Globe and Mail and could not help but think maybe I’m wrong.

Former central bank governor David Dodge agrees. Canadian bank executives keenly remember that period, “and there was therefore perhaps a degree of prudence, a lack of aggressiveness, in comparison with major banks around the world,” he said.

And he gives top marks to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Canada’s banking regulator, for being more conservative than those in the U.S. or Britain. “I think that, from a regulatory point of view, you can say that the Canadian banks were more appropriately regulated.” (Emphasis mine)

The idea of the free market only really makes sense if you do not have powerhouses, like the American banks, that can manipulate the system.  When it comes to corporations or the Government having controls I’ll choose the Government; at least when they screw up the little guys can fire them.

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What is no news?

March 17, 2009

No news is good news goes the old maxim. Maybe it is true. I’ve spent the last two days in a much smaller world. Catching up on the news tonight I’ve been struck by how hopeless everything feels. There is so much to comment on, but maybe the most important comment is this. There is hope.

I have hope in Jesus, in my ongoing struggles with doubt I cannot help but understand how truly broken the world is, how broken I am, and the need for redemption. This is primary for me, without it any hope is as useless as the universe.

But there are other causes for hope. Being welcomed into the home of a stranger when you’ve gotten the car stuck in a deserted corner of Nova Scotia. How could I describe the beauty of someone agreeing to take me and the woman I love in for an hour to await a distant tow-truck.

I find myself questioning my conception of our inherent evil. Humanity is broken, but in a strange way. We see dimly, and the vague impressions give us hope for a day when our sight will be restored. Sometimes we take in the stranger, other times we watch them freeze outside.